June 16, 2008


The pope, the president and politics of faith (Spengler, 6/16/08, Asia Times)

It is not only faith, but the temerity to act upon faith, that the pope and the president have in common. In the past I have characterized Benedict's stance as, "I have a mustard seed, and I'm not afraid to use it." (See Ratzinger's mustard seed Asia Times Online, April 5, 2005.) Despite his failings, Bush is a kindred spirit. That is what horrifies their respective critics within the Catholic Church and the American government, who portray the president and the pope as destroyers of civilizational peace. The charge is spurious because there was no civilization peace to destroy, but like many calumnies, it contains an element of truth.

Never before did a pope descend to the Vatican gardens to greet a national leader as Benedict did for Bush, returning the unprecedented deference that the president showed in meeting the pope's plane at Andrews Air Force Base in April. More than mutual courtesy is at work here; the two men evince a natural affinity and mutual sympathy. Prelates in the Vatican's permanent bureaucracy fumed at the warmth with which Bush was received, the Italian daily La Repubblica noted June 12, given that the US president "is very distant from papal exhortations condemning war", the Iraq war in particular.

Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, disagrees with American policy in Iraq, but not the way that the European or American left would like. "There was not a word from the papal throne about the possibility of an attack on Iran during the coming months, the catastrophic results of which terrify all the bishops of the Middle East," Marco Politi fulminated in La Repubblica June 14. "In the Holy Land, the Holy See is being towed behind the snail's pace [in peace negotiations] of Washington and the Israeli government."

Despite his position on Iraq, Benedict's critics within the church regard him as a civilizational warrior as dangerous as the US president. Bush might denounce "Islamo-facism", but continues to believe that Islam is a "religion of peace". Muslims suspect that the pope wants to convert them, a threat they never have had to confront in Islam's 1,500-year history.

Benedict's "opposition" to the Iraq War is like W's "support" for the ADA, just an inherited obligation.
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Posted by Orrin Judd at June 16, 2008 8:07 AM

Bush might denounce "Islamo-facism", but continues to believe that Islam is a "religion of peace".

How does Spengler know what Bush "believe"? Wouldn't it be better "but continue to SAY Islam is a religion of peace, so he can squash the Islamists in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world without offending the majority of the Muslim world"?

Posted by: ic at June 16, 2008 12:50 PM

Islam and Islamicism are separable.

Posted by: oj at June 16, 2008 4:06 PM